Meeting the Audience

By Janine Sobeck, dramaturg

Now that our opening weekend for The Servant of Two Masters is over, the fun really begins. Not only do the cast and crew really get to settle into their roles, we also get to start hearing feedback from our audience members. Some will be formal in the terms of reviews, while others will be informal discussions with friends, family, and strangers who attended the show.

The ability to talk to our audience really is one of the most fulfilling parts of doing theatre. Not only do we love to hear your thoughts on the show, we love to discover what questions you have about the issues discussed, the process of creation, or anything else that you have on your mind.

Servant_1_300x365One of the ways that we ensure that we will get to hear from our audience is through our post show discussions. These post shows (also called Meet the Company) happen immediately after the Thursday night performances of each production. The audience is invited to stay, the actors come out, and the dramaturg moderates a discussion based on those thoughts and questions that the audience has.

If you’ve never been to a post show, I invite you to attend one for The Servant of Two Masters, which are happening on March 28th and April 4th. If you’re in the audience that night, all you have to do is stick around, and if you’ve seen the show another night, all you have to do is show up around the end of the show (about 9:30) and walk into the theatre. The discussion is free, and always proves to be a fascinating event.

Serving Up a Trailer

by Janine Sobeck, dramaturg

If you are an avid BYU theatre fan, you probably have noticed that the department releases trailers for all the shows.  Just like a movie trailer, these trailers are a great way to get an instantaneous understanding of the overall feel of the show you are about to see.

The trailer for The Servant of Two Masters is no exception.

As tomorrow (Friday) is opening night, it seemed like the right moment to share. Hopefully it brings a little joy to your day.

Who is Madeleine L’Engle?

by Patrick Hayes, dramaturg

To start our journey with A Wrinkle in Time, I wanted to take a look at the author of the original novel.  Just who is Madeleine L’Engle?

About the Author

The Early Years:
Madeleine L’Engle was born in New York City on November 29, 1918, and named after her great-grandmother, Madeleine L’Engle. Her mother, a classically trained pianist, was also named Madeleine. Her father, Charles Wadsworth Camp, was a writer, a critic, and a foreign correspondent during World War I. With the influence of her loving parents, L’Engle wrote her first story at age four and began keeping a journal at age eight. Her early literary attempts did not translate into academic success at the school where she was enrolled. Being a shy child, she was often branded as slow and mentally challenged by some of her teachers. Unable to please them, she retreated into her own world of books and writing.

Adulthood and Career:
MadeleineL’Engle attended Smith College from 1937 to 1941. After graduating cum laude, she moved to an apartment in New York City. In 1942, she met actor Hugh Franklin when she appeared in the play The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov. L’Engle married Franklin on January 26, 1946, the year after the publication of her first novel, The Small Rain. The couple’s first daughter, Josephine, was born in 1947. The family moved to Goshen, Connecticut in 1952 where their son Bion was born that same year. Four years later, seven-year-old Maria, the daughter of family friends who had died, came to live with the Franklins, and they adopted her shortly thereafter.

madeleine_lengleIn 1959 the family returned to New York City so that Hugh could resume his acting career. The move was immediately preceded by a ten-week cross-country camping trip, during which L’Engle first had the idea for her most famous novel, A Wrinkle in Time. L’Engle completed the book by 1960, but more than two dozen publishers rejected the story before Farrar, Straus and Giroux finally published it in 1962. After Wrinkle, L’Engle wrote dozens of books for children and adults throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. One of her books for adults, Two-Part Invention, was a memoir of her marriage, completed after her husband’s death from cancer on September 26, 1986. A few compilations of her older work, some of it previously unpublished, appeared after 2001.

In her final years, L’Engle became unable to travel or teach due to reduced mobility from a cerebral hemorrhage in 2002. L’Engle died of natural causes at Rose Haven, a nursing facility close to her home in Litchfield, Connecticut, on September 6, 2007, according to a statement by her publicist the following day. She is buried in the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in Manhattan, New York City, New York.

Awards, Honors, and Organizations
Associate Dame of Justice in the Venerable Order of Saint John (1972)
USM Medallion from The University of Southern Mississippi (1978)
Smith College Award “for service to community or college which exemplifies the purposes of liberal arts education” (1981)
Sophia Award for distinction in her field (1984)
Regina Medal (1985)
Guest speaker at the Library of Congress, giving a speech entitled “Dare to be Creative!” (1985)
President of the Authors Guild (1985 – 1987)
ALAN Award for outstanding contribution to adolescent literature, presented by the National Council of Teachers of English (1986)
Kerlan Award (1990)

In her lifetime, she received over a dozen honorary degrees from as many colleges and universities, such as Haverford College. Many of these name her as a Doctor of Humane Letters, but she was also made a Doctor of Literature and a Doctor of Sacred Theology, the latter at Berkeley Divinity School in 1984. In 1995 she was writer-in-residence for Victoria Magazine. In 1997 she was recognized for Lifetime Achievement from the World Fantasy Awards. In 2004 she received the National Humanities Medal but could not attend the ceremony due to poor health.

A Designer’s Mind

by Lyndi Sue Mecham, Costume Designer and Janine Sobeck, dramaturg

As so many of the design elements for a show need to work together in harmony, designers often collaborate with one another, sharing ideas, thoughts, and inspirations.  In the case of The Servant of Two Masters, one collaboration was between Costume Designer Lyndi Sue Mecham and BYU’s Hair and Make-up Supervisor Janell Turley.  Turley was creating the wigs for a few characters and came to Mecham to discuss how the wig could enhance the design of the costumes.  Here is a look at what inspirations and ideas Mecham shared in order to help Turley create the perfect wig for the character of Clarice. You can find the complete journey to Clarice’s costume (and other characters) in the program study guide.

Clarice: Ingénue in looks, period influence, but with modern edge

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These were the main pictures (and descriptive words) I kept from the “character icon” packet for Clarice. The first one is the traditional Clarice from Commedia shape. I liked the loud but soft hairpiece in the second, and I love the roll/curl/”hurricane”/swirl in Paris’ hair. It wouldn’t have to be that big and I definitely don’t want the slick look for everything else, but I love that swoop. Especially if it’s ombre.

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These are images Stephanie sent in the beginning. Something that really helped me to understand the characters and where to take them was watching rehearsals and run-through. The dress from the front cover of strictly ballroom definitely played part in Clarice’s dress though, so that’s still there.

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These were the ideas that inspired the rest of Clarice. I did a mesh of everything and came up with two different renderings. The design progressed from my favorite (it actually goes left to right) when I found out what she needed to do in rehearsal. I loved the sparkle, but we decided the best mix would be the shape on the right, but that we could invert the layers to underneath instead of over the top. That tied in the “period” feel we wanted but let it still be modern. Making sense?

clarcostThis is the painting, titled “The Happy Accidents of the Swing,” painted sometime in the second half of the 18th century. In the movie “The Slipper and the Rose” this scene is almost replicated as far as the female character goes.

slipperThis film is the reason I have always wanted to be a costume designer. When Director Stephanie Breinholt told me that she wanted a mix of the periods in every character, I knew the inspiration for “period” in Clarice’s dress would come from this movie.

slipper2I love the tiny little, perfectly round spit curls on the side next to the beautiful swoop over the ear. I love the height, and I’m pretty sure there are little sparkly things in it because in the movie, the Fairy Godmother makes the wig out of a mop head and magical bubbles. It’s really cool.

clarmovieI also pulled some inspiration from early movie stars for the dress, though the sleeves are about the only thing that stayed. A different option to curls that lead into the chignon could be fingerwaves. I have no idea how well they hold up, but this is gorgeous, and reminds me of some of the rippled trims on her dress.

So that is a brief look into some of my inspirations. That was fun. Designing IS really fun.

 

Reflections

by Ariel Mitchell, dramaturg

Theater is a live art. You share an experience physically together in a space with actors, crew, and fellow audience members. Things happen differently as actors attempt to repeat actions and new audiences with diverse experiences come in and receive new things, laugh in different places, and clap (or don’t) where no one has before. That’s what is exciting about theater. You can see the same play performed by the same company over and over, but still you can experience something new.

However, the problem with live art is there always comes a time when it has to die. The curtain falls on the performance and that production with those participants (actors and audience) in that space will never be performed ever again. It’s just gone.

Ali-Social-Worker

Just last week, I was discussing this with our stage manager, Hannah Richardson. Both of us have been a part of this production for almost a year and we were bemoaning the fact that this play that we helped to create, The Cleverest Thief, will probably never be produced again. It was a play written specifically for our audience by our audience. It was what it was. It didn’t try to be anything different. But because it was our stories, it connected more to us. Provoans wanted our stories as Provoans to be told. We filled that void. Would it be as effective in St. George, Seattle, New York, or LA? Probably not. Even performed here Gone Missing (which is set in New York) lost a little of its resonance with our audience.

deaf woman

Thinking about it now, I don’t know if I want it to be produced again. Maybe we take the process more than the production here. Maybe we inspire people to go out and perform and tell their own stories. Maybe it doesn’t have to be performed (in the traditional sense) to keep this particular piece of theater alive.

I guess it’s a little ironic that we are already feeling nostalgic about this show about loss. But as Dr. Palinurus revealed to us in Gone Missing, we enjoy this pain, this nostalgia, this pain in coming home again. There is something that interests us about loss and brings us closer together. We have all lost something. The difference is how we choose to deal with it. Even though we no longer have the production, we will always have the memory. We can always choose to enjoy that.

Thank you to all who came and shared your stories. They live on in our hearts and minds.

In the Midst of Tech

by Janine Sobeck, dramaturg

Friday night, The Servant of Two Masters entered the newest phase of rehearsal: tech.  Technical Rehearsals (most commonly known as “tech”) is when we leave the classroom we’ve been rehearsing in and move on stage.  One by one, the technical elements of costume, make-up, lights, sound, and props are added, and every night we get a little closer to having the full show on stage.

For this show, the first order of business was spacing.  With the nature of the set, the cast needed time to see how blocking they’ve been practicing worked with the backdrop (with its door and shutters), the fountain, the ropes, and the entrances and exit.

Once the cast felt comfortable with the space, the second element added was props. While the cast had access to “rehearsal props” during the first few weeks (items that resemble or stand in place of the actual props), the transition from rehearsal props to real props can always be a little tricky. Some items don’t work the same way, or are a slightly different size or shape, and so the cast, director, stage manager and prop designer have to work together to make sure that everything is perfect.

Tonight we start to add two more elements: lights and costumes. Since lights and costumes can have a major effect on each other (just imagine what would happen if you had a beautiful red dress put under a dark green light), lights and costumes are being added together to make sure that both designers (as well as the director) are happy with the results.

With each night we are getting one step closer to the final look of the show!

And just to give you an idea, here’s a little sneak peak at one of our publicity photos…

servant pub

 

Post Show Discussion

by Ariel Mitchell, Dramaturg

After an amazing performance Thursday night, two of our actors gladly welcomed the audience down to ask members of the cast and crew questions about the production and participate in what we call a post show discussion.

As the dramaturg, I helped to mediate as many actors jumped in eagerly to answer questions about making real people into characters that they could perform every night and the process of writing and devising a piece of theater. I think the audience members who stayed appreciated the insight and context that was given by the actors who finally were able to fill in the story behind the stories that were told on stage. The process is almost as interesting as the product!

Gone Missing poster

I’m glad we had a chance (even in a small way) to help contextualize this performance. If you didn’t have a chance to come to the post show discussion I encourage you to read the previous blog posts or comment on this post with any questions you may have and we will be glad to discuss them!

If you have not yet seen the show (or want to see it again), tickets are still being sold online and at the BYU arts ticket office in the HFAC.

Everyone has a story

by Ariel Mitchell, dramaturg

Lobby Display

Our lobby display before the first preview (2/27/13).

When we first discussed what we wanted for a lobby display, we decided we wanted something interactive that would help the audience feel connected to the stories and the process of our production right from the start. We ended up creating our own lost and found board where actors would come out to great patrons, explain a little bit about our project, and ask them to tell a story about something they’ve lost or found.

 

So far it’s seems to be pretty successful.

Our lobby display halfway through the run (3/6/13).

Our lobby display halfway through the run (3/6/13).

We’ve even had to find more space!

We've even had to find more space :)Here are some of our favorite posters so far (that we were able to get pictures of and post):

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One of the things that we’ve learn most from this project is that everyone has a story, we just need to take the time to ask and find it.

Thank you to all of the incredible and unique people who have already participated. We can’t wait to see what more stories you have to tell 🙂

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Tickets are still available online!

Tips for a Great Night at the Theater

by Ariel Mitchell, dramaturg

For a couple weeks now there has been a flurry of excitement as projections were added and aligned, music was perfected, and actors prepared to perform in front of an audience for the first time on Wednesday (2/27).

We hope you are as excited as we are and we want to give you a few tips to have the greatest night possible at Gone Missing and The Cleverest Thief.

Things you can do to get the most out of the play:

1. Make a poster IMG_2574As a part of our lobby display, you can make a lost or found poster for something you’ve lost or found!

2. Post to facebook

Like our page on facebook (“Your Stories for the Cleverest Thief”) and tell us your story about loss.

3. Check out the interviews we cut on youtube: BYUCleverestThief: Here’s just one…

4. Check out the other blog posts

5. Sit back relax and enjoy the show!

2 plays, 1 night

By Ariel Mitchell, Dramaturg

There has been a lot of confusion about what The Cleverest Thief and Selections from Gone Missing is. Throughout this blog, we’ve shared our process and tried to give background about our project. But, I am remiss to say, that maybe after 10+ blog posts, readers are still unsure what this performance is.

I’d like to rectify this.

The Cleverest Thief and Selections from Gone Missing is a BYU main stage production of two plays in one night: Gone Missing and The Cleverest Thief.

civilians_gone_missing

Gone Missing is a devised play (see other blog post) created by the Civilians in 2003. The members of the company went out into New York to interview people about things they’ve lost. The company then took these interviews and created monologues and songs to create a play they called Gone Missing.

lost and found orchestra

 

 

The Cleverest Thief is a play created and written by BYU students using interviews of members of our community in Provo. Like Gone Missing, it has great monologues and songs.

So basically The Cleverest Thief and Selections from Gone Missing is a night of one acts. One about loss in Provo, one about loss in New York. Both incredibly enjoyable.

If this sounds interesting to you, tickets are now on sale here:

You won’t be disappointed.